Electric Dreams

Chicken Coop Thinking

Al Bouchard

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Al Bouchard (2005 August). Chicken Coop Thinking. Electric Dreams 12(8).

dream_date: 1960s
dreamer_name: Eldermystic

In my thirties, the recurring theme in my dreams was the naked self.


There were many variations to these naked self dreams. In these dreams, I found myself walking or running nude through a room or some other place. There were always other people around fully clothed. I was apprehensive about people seeing me naked. I hid behind doors, in bushes, or hid anywhere before I had enough courage to walk or run naked amongst other people. I wondered what they would think of me. Sometimes I had to return the same way to get my clothes. The apprehension of doing this was doubled. Afterwards, my reaction was, 'Nobody even noticed. What was I so worried about?"

At times an experience in daily life can trigger an understanding of a dream. One such event in my life happened at a private school where I taught. The school was in a rural area. The school had an operating farm. An empty chicken house was being used to store hay. One day the hay caught on fire. It became a flaming inferno in the building within minutes.

Across a small dirt road about twelve feet from the blazing building was another chicken house. The two buildings were parallel to each other. The flames shot across the road. The flames were licking at the side of the other chicken house. Soon, this second chicken house, also, caught fire. Eight hundred chickens were living in this house that caught fire. This house had been their home for about a year since they were hatched. Their whole life had been lived in this chicken house. They never went outside of it.

When we saw the danger to the chickens, a team of firefighters, students and teachers rushed to the side of the chicken house away from the fire. This side of the chicken house was one hundred feet long. The construction was very simple. The outside pine boards were covered with tar paper. These boards were nailed to two by four studs, two feet apart from each other. Nothing was nailed inside the studs.

In minutes we had holes opened in the wall. The chickens could escape from the heat, smoke and flames coming in from the other side. Ten minutes later, the entire length of the building was opened for the chickens to escape the flaming inferno.

Not one chicken stepped outside of the house. All eight hundred of these chickens died. There was nothing we could do to save them. Any chicken farmer knows why they died. The chickens lived their whole life in this house. The house was their protection from any danger. Outside the house was scary, dangerous. Inside was safety.

The cultural chicken house I grew up in had very restrictive ideas about dreams, people, sex, nudity, and spiritual awareness of any kind outside of organized religions. Genitals and women's breasts were to be covered. Dreams were denied any real existence.

Logical reasoning was superior to intuition. Men were superior to women, adults to children. Whites were superior to blacks and other ethnic peoples. Christians were superior to Jews and any other religious beliefs. Straights were superior to gays. Humans were superior to animals. Some occupations were superior to other occupations. Normal was superior to abnormal.

Remembering the incident with the chickens dying in their house gave me my first clues about my streaker dreams. I was, at that time, questioning beliefs in many areas of my life. Until then, I had accepted most beliefs rather passively. After all, I got them from my parents, relatives, friends, teachers, ministers. These were people I trusted and had faith in.

I began to find flaws in some of my beliefs. I began to strip off beliefs that didn't hold true for me anymore. With these beliefs stripped away, others could then see my true self. The fear, the apprehension, the hesitation before going out in front of others stripped of my cultural clothing was as real for me as the chicken's fear of leaving the safety of their house was for them.

I have often heard remarks like, "It's only a dream, it isn't real."; "It's something you ate."; "You were just overtired." And so chicken coop thinking begins about our dreams. It prevents us from wanting to understand and involve ourselves consciously with our dreams.

I have learned to embrace a cooperative attitude toward my dream experiences. My dreams help me strip myself of the chicken coop thinking of superiority I may have over others which prevents me from seeing others for the truly unique persons they are.